Family Christmas Tree

She runs to clear her head.  Sort of a way to push the pain out through her feet and onto the sidewalk.  Something about the fresh air, the heart beat and a destination helps bring healing.

It’s been 2 years since Lisa lost her husband in the war.  And as the kids get older, it doesn’t get easier.  But there is no choice but to carry on and continue living and loving.

41 other service-men lost their lives from the same Battalion as John, her husband.  That is a lot for any Battalion.  In an effort to bring those families together, as well as bring the military families together with the community, Lisa decided to put her passion to work.  She started wear blue: run to remember.  This is a non-profit aimed at creating opportunity to allow running, either alone or in the community, to bring healing a hope.  It’s a support network, a running memorial.  Lisa’s goal is the help install chapters at every Army base in the country, creating a national network of support.

Here is the best part.

Instead of offering military discount for family shoots or weddings, I recently decided to offer the opportunity for someone to anonymously ‘sponsor’ the photo shoot.  Meaning donors can help pay for the shoot so the families don’t have to.  I decided to try this for Lisa’s family shoot last week.  I posted a note on social media sites before I headed out for the shoot.  Before I had even arrived to Lisa’s home, the shoot had been sponsored.

I waited until after the shoot was over to inform Lisa.  She was incredibly overwhelmed with gratitude.  But she still wanted to pay for the shoot.  So I asked if that money could be donated to her non-profit, and it was.

Wear blue: run to remember has been a great outlet for Lisa so cope with her loss, but help others in the process.  And she can use your help.  It costs money to raise money and awareness.  And she is just getting started so there is a ways to go.  If you are interested in helping Lisa out, please visit her website.


“Thank you so much for sharing your time yesterday to take our pictures.  We do a lot on our own, and as mom and dad at large, I take all of the pictures.  It is wonderful for us to have a capture of ALL of us getting our tree (or 4 of them)…  I am still honored to have your caliber of photographer having taken our pictures.  Please know that I am very grateful.

Also, volumes spoken about your family about the sponsorship of our session.  Holy smokes!  What an amazing kindness.  It sounds like it is a gift that you give many of your military families, but please know how especially touched we are.  I know that we are blessed in our lives, but there is a certain glaring heartbreak in John’s absence during the month of December.  The amount that we grieve or miss him is no less than two years ago, in the first months after his death.  It is such an uplift to that we are cared for by strangers in his absence, thereby continuing to honor and remember John.  Does that make any sense? It was such a beautiful way to start this special month.

Thank you so much Jeff!




  1. Ryan wrote:

    I love everything about this post: the story, the writing, the photos, and the photographer. Great work my brother!! Keep it up and keep the great ideas flowing. I admire your ingenuity for allowing others to sponsor the shoot, then paying it forward into the NPO. Cutting edge stuff… great job.

  2. Scott wrote:

    Awesome post Jeff! Amazing pictures and story.

  3. jsa wrote:

    well done jeff.

  4. Sarah wrote:

    Amazing pictures! They are just beautiful!

  5. Emily Wenzel wrote:

    What a wonderful post Jeff. The pictures are beautiful, but the story is even better, and how fun to go pick out Christmas trees! I love the idea of having sponsors for military families, a way of showing our appreciation for what they’ve given for our country.

  6. There is something amazing about the way you photograph. Not only are you able to capture the beauty of the image but always the emotion as well. Thanks for sharing this heart warming story with us. Very well done!

  7. Kamieo wrote:

    Amazing! Love everything!
    So glad to see people are still grateful and kind hearted. Its been a rough season for me.

  8. Jonas Seaman wrote:

    Beautiful idea! And amazing images!

  9. rachel rumph wrote:

    wow…just everything about this…i love that there are so many pictures..i often take too many….but love that too many really does tell the whole story and nothing less.

  10. Dana Napoleon wrote:

    This is just incredible Jeff – totally what life is ALL ABOUT.

  11. Aunt Denise wrote:

    Jeff….what a gift of love to record this family in such an honest and loving life sessions. Amazing…will be praying for them.

  12. Such a touching setting, to see the progression of the day. Those pictures will be cherished for years to come. the ones of them all carrying their own little trees is priceless!!

  13. Daniel Cruz wrote:

    Amazing story man, and beautiful images.

    Lisa, if you’re reading this, STAY STRONG! You’re doing a great job. :]

  14. Alicia & Fred wrote:

    WONDERFUL ! There is no other word to describe a very memorable event. You do indeed have beautiful children and you Lisa are a beautiful person, mother and an inspiration to all. Have a fabulous Christmas. I love the children’s trees.